Second Chances – Manuscript Excerpt

The following excerpt is the property of Drusilla Mott and is not to be copied, stored, forwarded, or used in any way without the written permission of the author.

Shannon Miller sat on the lawn watching the large gathering through amused eyes. Who are these people? Her mouth quirked as the thought went through her mind again. They were her family, but she didn’t know half of them. The cousins she had grown up with were familiar, but the rest were … relative strangers. The curve of her lips threatened to grow as the words entered her mind. She turned her head and grinned at her sister.

“Who are these people?”

Megan grinned back and shrugged.

“Beats me.”

Their humor was self-directed. Even though it was a fairly large crowd, she felt ridiculous not knowing her own family.

The sound of another car drew her attention to the driveway and she watched three more strangers walk across the yard. The little boy ran ahead, running straight to some of those unknown relatives. Her amusement grew at this. He was perhaps three, but he knew her relatives better than she did. Her eyes moved over the woman as she followed the child, and came to rest on the man.

Many things were immediately obvious. There was a tension between the two adults that spoke of barely suppressed anger. She was a short distance ahead of him, and he was in no hurry to walk beside her. Shannon got the impression that the distance between these two was more than the short physical space that separated them, and that they were both responsible for it. Theirs was not a happy relationship.

She studied him, taking in his faded blue jeans and white t-shirt, his short brown hair and mustache. He looked quite a bit older than the woman did, but that could have been due to the short military-style hair cut and the hard, set expression that seemed carved into his face. He wasn’t really tall, but he had the kind of hard, muscular build most men only dreamed of having.

She followed the man’s progress to the side porch, studying him as he sat on the porch steps, only barely aware that the woman had joined the group that the child had run to. He seemed so withdrawn and apart from the rest of the crowd as he sat there, as if he were deliberately distancing himself from everyone else. It was obvious he did not want to be there.

She turned to look at the woman, already involved in the conversation of the group she had joined, showing no concern toward the man she had arrived with. It was as if there was an invisible wall between the two and she couldn’t help but wonder what had put it there. Shannon herself seemed more connected to him than his companion did.

Was it the bond of one unhappy person to another, the shared pain of an empty relationship? Was she picking up his feelings because she was also trapped in a miserable life with no way out? She couldn’t be sure, but she knew that the sadness and angry frustration she saw in him were reflections of her own soul.

She had been existing in an empty marriage for years, trapped in a life full of anger, hatred and suspicion. Was it possible that her own deep unhappiness made her more aware of someone else’s? If so, why had she never felt this empathy with anyone else? Why now with this man?

She looked back at him, still sitting silently alone, and felt a strange twist of something unnamable move inside her, almost as if his self-imposed solitude was her own. She could feel his anger and pain, his unhappiness and loneliness, settle deep inside. It made her want to go to him and try to help. It made her ache to sit down next to him and talk to him. She wanted to take his pain and unhappiness and make it disappear.

The yearning for something unknown swelled inside her. It was a need for something she didn’t have and didn’t really understand. It brought an aching emptiness into her that desperately needed filling; a silent cry for something she wasn’t even sure existed. Something clicked in her mind, a shadowy memory of something that she could not put her finger on. She tried to remember, to draw up the elusive memory, but it stayed stubbornly hidden from her thoughts. Slowly she relaxed her mind, hoping to will the memory into place.

© Drusilla Mott and, 2019

SECOND CHANCES – Excerpt from Chapter 4

The following is an excerpt from my manuscript, part of the re-write that I have been trying to work on.  I got it written, but on reading it back, wondered if there is too much anger and nastiness for inspirational fiction.  I decided to share this portion with the hope that you would give me some honest feedback on whether it needs to be changed.  There are excerpts from the Prologue here and from Chapter One here.  If you haven’t already read it, the Chapter One excerpt will give you an idea about the anger and nastiness in this excerpt.

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A short while later, she stood in the middle of the room, eyeing the new arrangement.  She turned in a circle, smiled and nodded at the cozy seating areas that she had made with a few strategic moves of chairs and tables.

The sound of the kitchen door opening had her turning in time to see Paul stop in the doorway.  She studied the curled lip and the derision that read clearly in his eyes.

“That didn’t take you long.”

“What’d you want me to do?  Set up a shrine in the corner where your recliner was?”

Shannon winced as soon as the words left her mouth.  No use in being snarky.

Red rushed up his neck at her question but he chose to ignore it and said instead, “You’re losing floor space, you know.”

She looked at him and shook her head.  That had been his reason for wanting all the furniture shoved back against the walls.  She ran her eyes over the room, really liking the new arrangement.  When she glanced back at him, she raised a brow in question; ignoring his attempt to make her feel stupid and inept.

“Did the room get smaller?  I guess I must have missed that.”  When he didn’t respond, both brows rose nearly to her hairline.  “Did you want something specific, or are you just here to be miserable?”

“I didn’t get the tools in the basement.”

Shannon waved a hand toward the basement door.

“Well, have at it.”  She watched him turn around and said, “And thanks for the reminder.  I’ll get to the hardware store later and change the locks on the doors.”

That got a reaction.

“You can’t lock me out.  This is still legally my house too.”

“You’ve moved out, why would you need to come in here?  If there is nothing left here of your’s, there’s no reason for you to come back here.”

“You can’t lock me out.”

“You already said that, but you still haven’t said why you’d need to be here.”

She watched the wheels turning and almost smiled at his thought process.  “To see Randy.”

“Randy is very rarely home.  If you want to see him, invite him to supper.”

The red returned to his face, then quickly changed to purple.

“You try to keep me out, I’ll sue.”

That made her laugh.

“Seriously? You’ll sue?”  She shook her head.  “And how do you think that’ll make Randy feel about you?  You’ve already done enough damage to his feelings for you, don’t make it worse.”

“Don’t do anything to turn him against me.”

“I haven’t done anything.  You’ve done a good enough job all on your own.”

He took a step toward her, face a mottled purple.

Shannon refused to back down, raised her chin.

“Take another step, and it’ll be you on the wrong side of the law.  And with Joe as a witness to your last threatening move, you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.”

At her words, he stopped, curling his lip in contempt.

“So, you’re still robbing the cradle, huh?”

“I would have thought, considering Kelly’s age, you would not be the one to bring that up.”

He couldn’t quite cover his surprise at her statement, but it was quickly replaced by more contempt.

“Getting so cozy with Joe that you’re trading personal information?”

“Get your thoughts out of the gutter, Paul.  He told me how old she was the night of our confrontation.  So don’t try to shove your lack of moral standards onto me.  Contrary to the lies you and Kelly are spreading about me, I am not the one that has committed adultery.”

His head reared back and he opened his mouth to deny any involvement; then closed it again, looking like a fish out of water.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, you do.  But a word of caution … Randy has heard the lies, and has asked me about them.  If he finds out it was you behind them, he will probably never forgive you.”

“You’d tell him?”

And there was the admission.

She looked at him, filled with so much dislike and anger, she wanted to throttle him.  She swallowed hard and told herself it would serve no purpose to let fly at him.

“Paul, use some sense.  I hadn’t heard about the lies until he asked me about them.  If someone is going to be mean enough to repeat them to him, do you really think they would hesitate to tell him it was you and Kelly that started them in the first place?”

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© Drusilla Mott and, 2012